Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunday 15, Ordinary Time "Heed the voice of the LORD, your God": To love the Lord is to Keep the Word

"Friend me on Facebook." "Follow me on Twitter." Virtual reality on the internet has become a big part of life and an important barometer for some people as to how well they are liked or how much they are valued. Virtual reality, however, can only take us so far. As human persons we need more than an image on a screen or an email message to find happiness. We need the intimacy of voice and presence, the gift of being with another, in order to be fulfilled in relationships.

Friends and family are the sources of filling our need for human love, always will be and according to God's plan are a gift and sign of His love. These real sources of friendship and love can never be replaced by mere technology.

When it comes to God and how we know whether we are His friend, He has left no doubt: "If you love me, you will keep My commandments." He has spoken in ten ways and we must "heed His voice", keeping the way of life he marks out for us in these guides for living. But he has gone a step further. He has shown us Himself in Christ the Word, who is for us a model of the Ten Commandments in action. God spoke ten words to His people through His servant Moses as recorded in the Old Testament. Now those words have taken on flesh perfectly in Jesus, the Word of the Father.

Everything begins with listening. To be a friend, to love someone else, means to be present to the one we love so that we can come to know that person. Listening is a vital part of the process. God has a voice and uses it to communicate Himself, to give Himself to us. The Word which God speaks must be eternal like God, that is, without beginning or end. In fact God's Word must be no less than God and is God: Jesus Christ is the Eternal Word of the Father!

God is Love. Jesus is the Incarnation of God. Jesus is God's love present and acting for us to see and to follow.

"For this reason the apostles confess Jesus to be the Word: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'; as 'the image of the invisible God'; as the 'radiance of the glory of God and the very stamp of his nature'. (CCC 241)

In order to listen to God, we must begin with Jesus Christ, the perfect Word spoken by the Father once and for all humanity, from the beginning to the end of the world. His words and actions bear for us the example of the truth about loving.

How do we "heed the voice" of the Lord? How do we listen to God? By accepting Jesus Christ, because he who hears the Lord Jesus, hears the Father: "He who sees me, sees the Father."

And in Jesus Christ we see the "ten words", that is the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments, take on flesh, become visible, believable and livable. When we listen to the Lord and contemplate his actions, we see God made visible and know how we too should live in love, thus also calling His Father, our Father and His God, our God.

How do we hear this Word which Is Jesus Christ, come in the flesh and dwelling among us? The first and most important place to begin keeping God's Word in Christ, to possess the gift of the Son, is the liturgy of the Church, or the prayer and worship of the Church, which we call holy Mass:

"The prayer of the Church, nourished by the Word of God and the celebration of the liturgy, teaches us to pray to the Lord Jesus. Even though her prayer is addressed above all to the Father, it includes in all the liturgical traditions forms of prayer addressed to Christ. Certain psalms, given their use in the Prayer of the Church, and the New Testament place on our lips and engrave in our hearts prayer to Christ in the form of invocations: Son of God, Word of God, Lord, Savior, Lamb of God, King, Beloved Son, Son of the Virgin, Good Shepherd, our Life, our Light, our Hope, our Resurrection, Friend of mankind. . . . (CCC 2665)

The Scriptures are necessary in order to hear and heed the voice of the Lord. Thus the proclamation of the Word of God in Holy Scripture constitutes part of the sacred liturgy of Holy Mass. In the Word proclaimed by the lector, the deacon or the priest, Christ truly speaks to all who are listening through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church is also constituted by Christ a teacher, commissioned to be thus when he told His Apostles and all in communion with them, "I give you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all the truth" and "He who hears you, hears Me." The Church is thus teacher, given the authority to hand on the law of Christ for believing and living, the faith and morals of the Christian life.

"It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of 'the law of Christ.' From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the "way." From the Church he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary; he discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it; he discovers it in the spiritual tradition and long history of the saints who have gone before him and whom the liturgy celebrates in the rhythms of the sanctoral cycle." (CCC 2030)

The fullest way in which we receive Christ is through His gift of Himself in the Eucharist. In this way He gives His grace to the baptized and practicing believer so that he or she can keep the commandments, and live the Faith, not by himself or herself alone but because of Christ alive in him or her: "I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me".

Because of Jesus Christ, you now can "return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul". The joy and serenity of one who knows he or she is loved by the greatest Lover of all, the One who gives Eternal life, this is the reward for those who are in a state of grace. Of them the Father says as He says of Jesus: "Behold my beloved son or daughter, in whom I am well pleased!"

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